He just couldn't stop at a Top Ten. Sydney film critic and cool funk DJ Bryn Tilly declares his top twelve film scores, EVER ...
This selection is made up of original motion picture scores, rather than soundtracks compiled of previously available songs, with the exception of Cliff Martinez’s Drive, of which five similarly styled songs by other artists are also included.
For me these twelve soundtracks perfectly capture the mood, tone, and atmosphere of their respective movie. They reflect my preference for a minimal approach to film music.
Star Wars ~ John Williams (1977)
Operatic, dynamic, evocative, and undeniably classic. So many memorable character themes. Stand-out pieces: Imperial March and Cantina Band.
Diva ~ Vladimir Cosma (1981)
Eastern-flavoured, experimental, haunting, melancholic. A “new wave” mood for a “new wave” movie. Stand-out pieces: Sentimental Walk and La Wally.
Blade Runner ~ Vangelis (1982)
My personal favourite. Dreamy, ethereal, drenched in a future nostalgia. Never has electronic music sounded so organic. Stand-out pieces: Blade Runner Blues and Tears in Rain.
Cat People – Giorgio Moroder (1982)
Creepy, undulating, sensual, scary. Moroder might be better known for his Euro disco, but he nails the erotic-horror! Stand-out pieces: Irena’s Theme and The Myth.
Paris, Texas ~ Ry Cooder (1984)
Cool, calm and collected, like a balmy breeze across a desert porch, this twangs in sparse harmony. Stand-out pieces Paris, Texas and I Knew These People.
Betty Blue ~ Gabriel Yared (1986)
Another personal favourite. Numerous variations on a few key themes. Drink café au lait from a bowl, eat hot chile in the sweltering heat, throw back tequila slammers, and make love like there’s no tomorrow. Stand-out pieces: Le Petit Nicolas and C’est Le Vent, Betty.
Orlando – David Motion with Sally Potter (1992)
Brooding and peculiar, strangely compelling, utterly seductive. Stand-out pieces: The Kiss and On the Road.
Three Colours White ~ Zibigniew Presnier (1993)
There’s a wonderful chill in the air. There’s drama, there’s sorrow, there’s love, there’s grief. It’s a beautiful thing. Stand-out pieces: The Beginning and The End.
Dead Man – Neil Young (1995)
Raw, primal, damaged, majestic; the grungy distorted electric guitar work plows like a steam train through a dense frontier fog. Stand-out pieces: Guitar Solo, No. 1 and Guitar Solo, No. 5
American Beauty – Thomas Newman (1999)
Newman has a gift. I love many of his movie soundtracks (and his television theme work), but he delivered superb work indeed for this modern classic. Stand-out pieces: Dead Already and American Beauty
Monsters ~ Jon Hopkins (2010)
Like Cliff Martinez (in particular sex, lies and videotape, which almost made this list), Hopkins knows a delicate, melodic, yet restrained approach, full of subtle nuance and powerful ambience works wonders. Stand-out pieces: Campfire and Monsters Theme.
Drive – Cliff Martinez (2011)
Stunning retro-electro-flavoured pop and sumptuous suspenseful ambience to the movie of the year. Stand-out pieces: Nightcall and Bride of Deluxe.
12 Magnificent Modern Monochromatic Movies
This is one list in which the selections are very much black & white. Legendary film writer BRYN TILLY delivers his verdict on the 12 most magnificent modern monochromatic movies ...
When colour movies first began being produced they were more expensive to process than black and white movies, but several decades later the tables turned, and during the 1970s it was considered an artistic statement (and an increasingly expensive one) to shoot your movie on black and white film. These days, of course, one can shoot digital and decide at a later date whether the movie should be in colour or black and white at no real extra cost.
Here then is a selection (in chronological order) of modern “artistic statements”, movies made post-1970, with almost all of them filmed in black and white, with the exception of a few that are asterisked.
Cinematographer: Frederick Elmes
Cinematographer: Gordon Willis
Raging Bull (1980)
Cinematographer: Michael Chapman
* A short “home movie” sequence was shot in grainy Super-8 colour.
Rumble Fish (1983)
Cinematographer: Stephen H. Burum
* The tropical fish in the aquarium are in colour.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Cinematographer: Kei Fujiwara and Shinya Tsukamoto
Shot in 16mm.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
Cinematographer: Andre Bonzel
Ed Wood (1994)
Cinematographer: Stefan Czapsky
Dead Man (1995)
Cinematographer: Robby Muller
La Haine (1995)
Cinematographer: Pierre Aim
Cinematographer: Matthew Labatique
Sin City (2004)
Cinematographer: Robert Rodriguez
* The director shot the movie digitally in colour against a green screen, and then digitally altered the images into high contrast black and white, with occasional touches of primary colour (red, yellow mostly). The character of Old Yellow Bastard is entirely in a mustard yellow hue.
Cinematographer: Martin Ruhe
* Although director Anton Corbijn is famous for his black and white still photography, due to the movie’s modest budget – and his dislike of the early black and white rushes - he was forced to use colour film and alter in post.